Empowering Communities: Clifton Flushy Championing Diversity and Breaking Barriers in Banking

Clifton Flushy National Manager of Black Community Business Development at TD
Clifton Flushy National Manager of Black Community Business Development at TD

The dynamic world of banking is where interactions hold the potential for opportunity and decisions can impact the financial landscape.

Clifton Flushy is emerging as a guiding force with his expertise and visionary approach redefining the contours of financial empowerment, shaping the future of banking with unparalleled insight and dedication.

Clifton is a seasoned professional and the National Manager of Black Community Business Development at TD, a prominent figure at the core of TD Bank Group’s mission to foster inclusivity and innovation.

With a background steeped in knowledge and skills, Clifton stands with the power of education and experience. Holding a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) focused on Sustainable Commerce from the University of Guelph, his academic prowess blends seamlessly with his practical expertise. Skilled in Portfolio Management, Business Relationship Management, Risk Management, Customer Service, and Operations Management, Clifton possesses a wealth of capabilities that drive TD’s initiatives forward.

At TD, where banking transcends transactions and becomes a journey of community empowerment, Clifton plays a pivotal role. As the National Manager of Black Community Business Development, he is at the forefront of TD Bank Group’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion.

Let’s explore Clifton’s role at TD which embodies a commitment to creating opportunities and making a difference!

Empowering Colleagues and Community

In the heart of the ever-shifting landscape of banking, Clifton emerges as a beacon of dedication and resilience, inspiring everyone around him. “I started my career at TD as a front-line teller 17 years ago,” he reminisces, his eyes reflecting on the journey he has undertaken. Through the years, he navigated the intricate paths of the banking world, climbing the corporate ladder one step at a time. “I did most of the in- branch client-facing roles from Teller to Branch Manager,” he shares, pride evident in his voice. Recognition as a top performer came his way multiple times.

During his stint as a Branch Manager, Clifton embarked on a challenging endeavor—pursuing an MBA. “Balancing school and career were a lot,” he admits. “It was tough juggling work, school and a social life.” Yet, he emerged victorious, wearing his accomplishments with humility and grace.

Transitioning into a coaching role, Clifton found himself leading a team of coaches, guiding TD’s client-facing workforce nationwide. In the midst of this, he embraced a pivotal responsibility as the Co-Lead of TD’s Employee Engagement Strategy within the Black Employee Network. “We facilitate town halls, recognize achievements of Black colleagues and create space for colleagues to share events in their markets,” he explains, highlighting the essence of community and camaraderie.

His journey took another turn when he delved into the corporate realm, taking on a strategy role which was an uncharted territory for him. “This was quite the transition,” he admits. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed. He was called upon to lead TD’s Visible Minority Council, focusing on enhancing Inclusive leadership. His relentless pursuit of diversity and inclusion earned him the title of ‘Diversity and Inclusion Champion‘ at TD.

In his current role as the National Manager of Black Community Business Development at TD, Clifton found his true calling. “This role gives me the opportunity to use all the skills I have developed over my career,” he shares. Collaborating with regional managers across the country, his mission is clear—to bring more of the Bank to Black Communities. His heart beats for the communities he serves and every challenge he faced, and every milestone he achieved, has led him to this moment.

Financial Literacy for All

In the vision TD has to be the bank of choice for Black customers, Clifton passionately advocates for understanding and empowerment. “We look at Black communities across our footprint and try to understand how we can best service them,” he shares. The driving force behind this initiative? Financial literacy. “Historically, Black communities have not had the same opportunities as others,” he acknowledges emphasizing the need for education in various financial aspects from credit facilities to investing and retirement planning.

Under the leadership of TD’s CEO, Bharat Masrani, the commitment to inclusivity echoes loud and clear. “Bringing everyone to the table,” Clifton echoes the sentiment, his confidence resolute. It’s not just about making decisions—it’s about making decisions rooted in understanding and insight. “We also ensure that the decisions we make are based on insights,” he states, underlining the importance of thoughtful, informed choices.

In this endeavor, TD is a pillar of support and education for Black communities. With every step, the Bank works to bridge the gap, fostering financial knowledge and empowering individuals to create a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Beyond Banking

Clifton stands as a seasoned guide in the banking landscape. Drawing from his 17 years of invaluable experience. “I impart my knowledge,” he affirms. A leader through and through, he has spent 90% of his professional life guiding others, earning a reputation as a fair and balanced mentor. “I am known as a fair and balanced leader who prides himself on Radical Transparency,” he acknowledges, attributing his approach to Ray Dalio’s influential book, Principles.

Driven by a deep sense of purpose, Clifton extends his wisdom beyond his daily duties. “In my junior roles with the organization, I didn’t have anyone who looked like me take the time to help me get to the next role,” he reveals. This gap fuels his determination to mentor other Black colleagues ensuring they navigate their career paths with TD successfully.

Outside of his main role at the Bank, Clifton dedicates his time to the TD Black Employee Network. “This role helps showcase and celebrate the contributions of our diverse Black employees within TD,” he states emphasizing the importance of recognizing and valuing diversity within the workplace.

His commitment doesn’t end there. Across Canada, he travels, connecting with TD colleagues, community members and clients. His mission? To provide counsel, offering guidance to businesses at every stage. “I provide counsel to businesses who are just starting out, to those who are looking to make the most of their existing business,” he shares, embodying the spirit of support and collaboration.

Inclusivity Ignites Innovation

Diving into innovation, Clifton recognizes a fundamental truth, “Innovation is key to our success as an organization.” With a mindset centered on humility and openness, he emphasizes the importance of active listening. “I am not the smartest person in the room,” he admits, acknowledging that true innovation stems from diverse perspectives. Clifton understands that leaders who claim to have all the answers might miss out on the wealth of ideas within their team.

Clifton’s approach is refreshingly different. He values opinions that challenge the status quo. “Innovation comes from people who have different opinions on a subject,” he affirms. This highlights the power of diverse perspectives in sparking creative solutions. To fuel this innovation, he actively seeks feedback from individuals outside the banking industry and stays abreast of global banking trends.

For Clifton, a leader’s receptivity to their team’s ideas is crucial. “Leaders that do not take their team’s opinion into consideration sadly leave a lot of innovation on the table,” he observes. This refers to recognizing that an inclusive environment encourages open dialogue and, ultimately, drives innovation forward.

Through his approach, Clifton not only embraces diverse viewpoints but also ensures that every voice is heard, fostering an environment where innovation thrives.

Confronting Bias, Embracing Diversity

In the journey of Clifton’s career, there are moments etched in resilience and determination, each one shaping his journey toward inclusivity. “There have been so many… where do I begin…” he reflects, reflecting on the weight of experiences that have defined his path.

One instance stands out, a coaching session that took an unexpected turn. His people leader, well-intentioned but ignorant, remarked, “You are smart for a Black guy!”  He shares, “I was stunned at this point as I had been with the organization for several years. The intention was to pay me a compliment, but it stung nonetheless.” Clifton’s response was a powerful mirror, making her confront her biases. “If someone said to you that you were smart for a woman what would you say?” he challenged, demanding recognition beyond stereotypes. Here, the tone of the conversation shifted, she apologised and said she didn’t mean it like that. It’s just not being one of those “Black people, you are well dressed, educated and speak well“.

Another challenge echoed through his career, the resounding ‘no’ he heard, a barrier between him and his aspirations. Denied opportunities due to perceptions, he refused to accept defeat. “I didn’t take no for an answer,” he asserts, recounting his relentless pursuit.

Navigating a landscape where conformity was favored, Clifton embraced his uniqueness. Leaders sought replicas of themselves, a path he refused to tread. “My upbringing as a Jamaican Canadian was not something that they could relate to,” he admits, highlighting the diversity of experiences within his community.

His approach to leadership is as individual as the team he guides. “I look at all of my people as individuals who enhance the team as a whole,” he shares, echoing his mother’s wisdom. Emphasizing the value of diversity, “Seven different sons, seven different minds,” he recalls. Clifton champions individuality understanding that uniform treatment doesn’t nurture growth. In these moments, Clifton’s story resonates—a tale of challenging biases, defying odds and celebrating differences.

Championing Change

Mentorship holds a special place in Clifton’s heart, driven by the belief that it’s pivotal for Black communities’ progress. “I make a point to always make time for mentoring,” he asserts, recalling his early career days when he lacked a mentor who resembled him.

Now, he dedicates countless hours to guiding others and filling the void he once experienced.

In the wake of George Floyd’s tragedy, Clifton became a catalyst for change. “I organized a town hall to provide an opportunity for employees to hear from our senior leaders about the Black Experience,” he shares. The event, featuring the CEO and leaders from across TD’s footprint, marked a career highlight, fostering dialogue and understanding.

Clifton’s impact extended further through his ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with Clifton Flushy‘ tour. “I had spoken to over 3000 employees about Blackness,” he reveals sharing experiences shaping a transformative conversation within TD. Leveraging social media, especially LinkedIn, he amplifies TD’s efforts in Black communities. “We tell the story across multiple platforms,” he emphasizes, recognizing the importance of widespread awareness and understanding.

Empowering Communities

In Clifton’s world, the essence of his work revolves around three fundamental pillars, “Customer, colleagues and community,” he states, his words carrying a profound sense of purpose. With staunch dedication, he strives to enrich the lives of Black Canadians through his daily endeavors.

For Clifton, collaboration is the guiding principle. “Collaboration is key,” he emphasizes, underscoring the importance of bringing key stakeholders together on this transformative journey. By uniting efforts, he believes in the power to bring the entire bank to Black communities creating meaningful change and lasting impact.

In Clifton’s vision, TD is a platform for empowerment. “TD can play a role in creating space for community leaders and professionals in Black Communities,” he asserts with conviction.

Through strategic partnerships with organizations like the Black Opportunity Fund, FACE Coalition and Groupe 3737, he paves the way for community leaders and professionals to foster a supportive environment where voices are heard and opportunities abound.

In every action and every decision, Clifton’s commitment shines through with the commitment not just to his work, but to the people he serves. Through his tireless efforts, he brings the vision of a stronger, more connected community to life.

A Lifelong Journey

Clifton’s vision for the future is a clear roadmap rooted in a profound sense of purpose. “My future goal is to become a C suite Executive,” he reveals. But it’s not just about positionality—its about impact. “I want to work in a role that provides me an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” he states. His passion for enhancing the customer and colleague experience, and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is evident in his words.

Clifton’s aspirations don’t stop there, he sees education as a lifelong journey. “I would also like to obtain a doctorate,” he shares. This reflects his commitment to continuous learning. For him, the pursuit of knowledge knows no bounds. “I consider myself a lifelong learner,” he asserts, recognizing the endless opportunities to broaden one’s horizons and make a difference in the world.

Transformative Leadership

In TD’s journey toward a more inclusive future, Clifton sees a promising path forward. “TD is on the right path,” he affirms, recognizing the pivotal strides made in meeting the demands of the ever-changing landscape. He sheds light on the core principles shaping TD’s approach:

  • Fostering Innovation: TD thrives on adaptability. The world is changing fast, colleagues are empowered to voice their ideas, fostering an innovative environment where every contribution matters.
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: In a world flooded with information, TD relies on data to move forward. Data helps leaders make informed decisions by centering decisions around data, TD ensures strategic and well-informed choices.
  • Matching Skills with Roles: TD believes in the power of the right fit. Putting the right people in the right roles echoes the importance of aligning individuals with roles that harness their skills and expertise.
  • Empowering the Black Community: TD embraces change, acknowledging the awakening around us. Giving opportunities to Black people in a digital age is crucial. Social media facilitates knowledge and understanding, paving the way for greater opportunities for the Black community.

In these guiding principles, TD not only embraces diversity but thrives on it, ensuring that every voice, every perspective and every opportunity contribute to a more inclusive and innovative future.

Beyond Comfort Zones

In Clifton’s eyes, bravery and action are key to fostering change. “Be brave—just because something has not been done in the past does not mean it shouldn’t be done now,” he urges, challenging the status quo. Leaders, he believes, must overcome inertia and comfort zones to make a difference.

Time and genuine conversation are paramount. “Make the time,” Clifton emphasizes, urging leaders to engage with their Black employees openly. He challenges them, “Have you had an open and frank conversation with a Black Employee?” Understanding the daily Black experience is crucial, he insists, advocating for listening tours to grasp the pulse of the community.

Clifton asserts, “Research is a powerful tool.” There is so much content out there about the Black Experience encouraging exploration through books, movies and podcasts. Sharing knowledge can be a catalyst. “Have a viewing party with your leadership team of a Documentary or do a book club,” he proposes as options that can help in fostering collective learning.

Setting goals and tracking progress are essential. Putting together a plan with achievable targets emphasizes the importance of celebrating milestones and maintaining transparency within the organization.

Clifton’s message is clear, Do the work. Research and have uncomfortable conversations. Growth comes from stretching boundaries, making the uncomfortable journey toward understanding and meaningful change.